The Earth’s “Love Handles”

Womencitizen is focusing on the Earth’s “Love Handles” with this 2 February post.  University analysts are finding the odd shape of the Earth is keeping satellites in orbit longer than if it were a perfect sphere.  If you’ll remember, the Earth isn’t shaped like a perfect sphere, but more like a squashed Halloween pumpkin.  Such a shape creates a “bulge” (or “Love Handles” in Womencitizen-speak) around the middle of the Earth.

I’ve talked about this sort of phenomena in the LEO lessons.  So go there for a longer explanation.  The bulge at the Earth’s equator helps sun-synchronous low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites fly over certain points of the Earth’s surface at certain times.  But now there’s more.  Apparently the Earth’s bulge has more influence over satellites orbiting it than the sun or moon.  Because of such influence, the satellites remain in orbital equilibrium much longer than they would if they were orbiting a sphere-shaped world.

To see why the Earth bulges, you can also go to this site.  It demonstrates, quite nicely, why the Earth is the shape it is.  With more satellites projected to launch into space, and more space operators dealing with the realities in space, we’re about to learn a lot more.

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